PARIS: New French Sports Minister Thierry Braillard has snapped back at FIFA president Sepp Blatter over the thorny issue of head covers or scarves writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

At the start of last month the law-making International Board confirmed the right of players to wear head covers, a move instigated originally to encourage women players in the Muslim world.

The French football federation responded by insisting that, in line with legislation in secular France, it would maintain a prohibition on such headwear because it could be construed as the public display of religious symbols.

In fact the wording of the football regulation was designed specifically not to refer to religious issues or even gender discrimination.

Blatter was tackled on the issue in an interview with the Qatari-owned French sports channel BeIN.


He said: “The French federation is a member of FIFA and the International Football Association Board is the guardian of the laws of the game. If they say that girls can wear a scarf then the French federation cannot say No . . . It has no choice.”

That statement went down badly with Lyon fan Braillard.

He shot back: “The position taken by the French federation and its president, Noel Le Graet, has our full support because M. Blatter needs to remember that the French state believes in the core values of the republic and these principles insist on secular values.

“The French federation is only standing up for the principles which are a pillar of our constitution. It seems perfectly proper, in return, that the government should show its support for the French football federation.”